I'm curious if there have been, or currently are, plans to make a movie from one of Jack Vance's stories, and what the status of such plans are?
UPDATE: I spoke to my good friend John Vance a couple of days ago (his details are available on the official Jack Vance website).
I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning that the Demon Princes stories are currently under option for an upcoming TV pilot and that we've all to keep our fingers crossed.
Several of Vance's works have been made into films:
There was also a made-for-TV thriller:
- Man in the Cage (1962)
and he screenwrote various episodes of Captain Video
As regards future works, from reading his fan pages as well as his own publisher's website, although numerous of his works have been optioned by Hollywood, there are no current plans to make any of them into films at this moment.
There definitely have been discussions over the film production of Vance's science fiction and fantasy work, including with Lucasfilm, as is evidenced in an interview given by original trilogy Star Wars storyboard artist David Russell to The Movie Blog in 2012.
Like the hundreds of other artists who were dying to work on Jedi, I was unable to get past the Lucasfilm front office. I happened to mention my problem to a good friend Jack Vance, a noted science fiction writer. It turned out that he was currently negotiating with Lucasfilm over the rights to one of his novels. Jack kindly suggested that I fly to Oakland, and he’d put a call into Lucasfilm to discuss his business, and afterwards hand the phone to me. Lacking any other option, I did as he suggested, and, probably out of consideration for Jack, ILM visual effects supervisor Joe Johnston agreed to an interview. However, he was impressed with my work—and so was Lucas, because shortly thereafter I was hired as a storyboard artist on Return of the Jedi! It was certainly a magic moment.
This was around the time of the publication of The Book of Dreams, the last in Vance's Demon Princes series, which was a rollicking space opera, and just the kind of thing Lucas might have been interested in (although anything that Vance had written up to that point could also have been a possibility).
There's no indication that work is in progress on any contemporary film adaptations of Vance's work (sadly).
Sadly, most modern science-fiction movies are now about battles and CGI effects or, should I say, "big" battles with "big" CGI effects (Avatar...) and this, even when the original material was not necessarily about this stuff (think about the last two Star Trek movies). This has become a necessity in order to become a blockbuster and covert the basic costs of making the movie and make a profit.
The movie about John Carter has go south because, while it was a movie with battles, these battles where only small battles, without any big, very big explosions. Other movies like Waterworld or The Factor where even worse in that regard and therefore, have sunk miserably at the market.
Most of Jack Vance's works are based on small battles and therefore - while making great literature - are not suited to be transposed as big battles with big explosions on the screen and therefore are likely to fail as possible blockbusters. You could say the same about the work of David Brin and of many other science-fictions writers.
A possible exception could be David Weber's Honor-verse. However, the problem in this case is that beside the fact that any of the books in this serie is about battles, there is no story behind that to put on the screen.